tDAR digital antiquity


Back to School!

Even though the weather is still sizzling and it feels like summer will never end, school is back in session here at ASU this week.  It seems like a great time to remind you that tDAR is a fantastic resource for teachers and students alike.  Educators at all levels can search tDAR for photographs and maps to enhance lectures.  We have hundreds of real data sets that can be used in classroom exercises.  There are even some sample assignments (another) in tDAR, and we would love to see more.  Are you an educator who has made use of tDAR in your classroom presentations or assignments?  Please tell us about it in the comments below!

For your enjoyment, see what we turned up when searching tDAR for these back-to-school themed topics: teaching, schoolhouse, pencil, teacher, notebookapple.


Exporting your Search Results in tDAR

A search in tDAR is likely to reveal a large number of resources that you plan to explore as part of your research.  Did you know you can download your search results as an Excel file?  It is easy!  After you have performed your search, simply click on the “Download these results -> to Excel” link on the left-hand column of the page[1].  Your search results will begin to download immediately.  Use this to create a bibliography or update your bibliographic software (e.g. Endnote).  If you use Zotero to manage your research sources you can easily use the browser-integrated save to select citations from your search results to save in your Zotero library.

Import via Zotero

[1] You must be logged in to tDAR to download your search results


My Summer in the Digital Archaeology World

This post was written by guest author: Sarah Neusius, Department of Anthropology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP)

My main project this summer is working with other zooarchaeologists who are part of the Eastern Archaic Faunal Working Group (EAFWG). With funding from the National Science Foundation (BCS1430754), we are preserving and integrating more than 50 Archaic Period (ca. 10,000 – 3,000 BP) faunal datasets and associated documents in tDAR (the Digital Archaeological Record).

Once the EAFWG has completed the uploading of the dataset files and created the metadata for them, these datasets will be publicly accessible for students and other researchers in the EAFWG collection within tDAR. These datasets were generated over the last sixty or more years by archaeologists working on sites located in the interior parts of Eastern North America. Because of a strong interest among archaeologists in human-environment interactions during the Archaic period the recovery and analysis of animal bones and other remains is a standard excavation procedure. This tradition of emphasizing zooarchaeological analysis continues today among Midwestern and Southeastern archaeologists interested in all of the PreColumbian periods. Good preservation has meant that large amounts of animal bone as well as mussel and snail shell often are recovered and significant faunal datasets have been generated for this region. Some of the better known of these sites are emblematic of the Eastern Archaic including Modoc Rock Shelter and the Koster site in Illinois, the Green River shell middens, such as Carlston Annis in Kentucky, and Dust Cave in Northern Alabama, but there are many other Archaic sites as well. Some of these datasets were recorded exclusively on paper, and some of the earliest digital faunal datasets were also created as a result of these excavations. Moreover archaeologists in this region continue to generate significant faunal data today. Unfortunately, these data have remained dispersed across a wide variety of institutions and are inaccessible to the larger archaeological community because they were recorded in a variety of formats and curated by individual researchers, some of whom are now deceased or no longer actively involved in Archaic period scholarship.

The EAFWG includes zooarchaeologists from IUP, the Illinois State Museum, the University of Kentucky, Florida State University, the Illinois Archaeological Survey, State University of New York at Oneonta and the University of Michigan at Flint.  Besides meeting at professional conferences and staying in touch through email and conference calls, we have held formal workshops related to the project.

Our goal is to use tDAR to make accessible, as well as to preserve, significant Archaic period faunal datasets. Specifically, we want to spur comparative studies between and among the datasets from different sites in order to enhance and expand research into the Archaic period in Eastern North America. Traditional explanations for Archaic period variability and change have regarded environment and demography as causal.  Unsurprisingly, such explanations are questioned by contemporary researchers, who argue that cultural identities, sociopolitical interactions, and ritual practices also explain some Archaic phenomena. In essence today’s archaeologists seek to understand Archaic period hunter-gatherers as more than participants in the ecosystem, and this raises new questions about the way Archaic data has been interpreted over the last half century or more. We think zooarchaeological data has much to contribute to these debates. Ultimately we have some macrolevel questions about the variable use of aquatic resources by people who lived in this area during the Archaic period, which we believe will contribute meaningfully to better understanding of the Archaic period. Work on these topics by members of the EAFWG continues.

Over the past year and through this summer I have been involved with myriad details, most of which would be far too boring for a blog such as this. However, I hope you can see why there are many steps in the EAFWG project. These have been accomplished with the help of several IUP undergraduate students and graduate students, and have included: (1) creating digital databases from paper records in the first place; (2) finding and removing errors from digital datasets; (3) uploading digital datasets to tDAR;  (4) providing metadata about what is in each dataset and what variables it contains; and, (5) creating the means of comparing datasets using  tDAR ontologies.

We are exploring how comparable our Archaic datasets are in terms of taphonomy and contexts sampled, and working on measuring environmental and demographic variation during the Archaic period. By the end of the summer, we hope to begin to consider our research questions concerning the use of aquatic animals more directly.

For me personally, this summer project has provided few chances to be outside as much as I would prefer or to develop the muscles and fieldwork tan that I often do. Regardless, the Archaic period was my first love in North American Archaeology. This project is an opportunity to revisit my dissertation research on the Koster site, which is pretty enjoyable and exciting for me. Both collaboration with other zooarchaeologists, and looking at data I know well with new perspectives is a lot of fun. So if you encounter me this summer and find me slightly glassy eyed from staring at the computer screen, rest assured that I’m still absorbed in archaeology!


tDAR Software Update (Obsidian)

Welcome to Obsidian: The Center for Digital Antiquity’s 15th major release of tDAR.  In this overview of Obsidian you will find information detailing both the major and minor improvements made to the tDAR system.  The pertinent modifications of Obsidian include improvements to Collection and Keyword Pages, Maps, Data Integration, and a new export feature.

Improved Collection Pages:

We have enhanced collection pages (example) to include more summary information about the collections’ contents. This includes a map showing where the resources in the collection are located geographically (aggregated from the bounding boxes) and clusters of common keywords related to the resources in each collection.  Additionally, when viewed in the “map view”, collections now dynamically load all of the items in the collection onto the map.

collection

Coding Sheet Mapping & Dataset Changes:

Coding sheets now have an error report displaying values that may be missing from them, but are present in the datasets they’re mapped to.  They also include “special” mappings for values that are unknown, or missing.

codingerror

 

Data Table Descriptions:

One of the missing features for data tables was a user’s inability to add a description to a dataset; we have corrected this issue.

Simplifying Associating Images with Datasets

With datasets like the Mimbres collection, we’ve added a new column type “filename” that simplifies the mapping between a row in a dataset and an image file.

Searching within maps:

With tDAR’s coverage being worldwide, one challenge is allowing a user to identify a specific area on the map to either search or draw their bounding box.  We’ve added a search box in the top right of most maps to allow users to specify a town, city, state, or country to navigate on the map to the approximate location.

Improved World Map

We’ve expanded the world map on the homepage to allow users to filter down to specific states within the US. Users can now see how many resources are associated with each US State as well as country. This has also been implemented in an extensible form that will allow us to implement similar maps on collection pages.

Faster searching:

We’ve removed some of the debugging associated with the initial SOLR implementation as well as improved how we display and manage information in SOLR to significantly impact the search performance (In some cases, up-to 10x faster). Of note here, we were extremely conservative in our initial implementation of SOLR, and this release, along with the next few will start to make more aggressive changes that take advantage of all of SOLR’s features as well as improvements.

Data Export:

It’s important for users to feel confident about contributing their data to tDAR. Part of fulfilling our promise of being an archive is allowing users retrieve their materials again. We’ve added the ability to export all of the files associated with a billing account or collection. Users can make a request and the system will create a ZIP file with all of the files they uploaded, any archival versions, and copies of the XML metadata records, providing a description of all records.

Linked Open Data:

We’ve added the ability to associate keywords with external vocabularies such as Open Context, Pelagios, and other authorities. Those keywords and relationships are exposed as JSON-LD and embedded in each tDAR page.

keyword

Improved API Documentation:

We’ve updated tDAR’s API documentation to include more info on what APIs are available, and how to access and/or use them.  We’d love your feedback  on their functionality  and are more than happy to assist with any questions you have.  We are always open to suggestions on what you think would assist in the continuous improvement of tDAR. 

GeoJSON search endpoint:

Along with our existing search endpoints (HTML, and RSS / GeoRSS), we’ve added a GeoJSON endpoint for tDAR allowing easier display of tDAR results on ESRI, Google, and Leaflet maps.

 

We hope you enjoy the new features and improvements available in our Obsidian release.  As always, we encourage you to be in touch with questions or feedback.  If you would like to learn more about tDAR for your personal or professional research and data management needs contact us.


32,863 Tree-ring Dates Uploaded to tDAR

This post was written by guest author Kyle Bocinsky.

A database of 32,863 tree-ring dates from across the southwestern United States—the largest and most comprehensive of its kind to date—is now available through tDAR. To build the database, we started with a smaller database gathered by Mike Berry and the Dominguez Anthropological Research Group and added several thousand dates from archaeological projects across the Southwest. All dates were determined by the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research (LTRR) at the University of Arizona. We also used the state site databases for the Four Corners states—Compass (Colorado), NMCRIS/ARMS (New Mexico), Utah Division of State History, and AZSITE (Arizona)—to assign site locations (UTMs) to each tree-ring date.

In an associated research publication—Exploration and exploitation in the macrohistory of the pre-Hispanic Pueblo Southwest (Bocinsky et al. 2016)—my colleagues Tim Kohler, Keith Kintigh, Johnathan Rush, and I analyzed these data for macroscalar patterns, and noted a four-peaked pattern in the number of tree-ring dates through time first established by Mike Berry in the 1980s. These four peaks correspond closely to the widely recognized Pecos classification of Ancestral Pueblo cultural phases. We then compared the tree-ring date distribution to a high-resolution reconstruction of the direct-precipitation maize farming niche across the Southwest from AD 500–1400. We argue that each of the Pecos periods initially incorporates an “exploration” phase, followed by a phase of “exploitation” of niches that are simultaneously ecological, cultural, and organizational. Exploitation phases characterized by demographic expansion and aggregation ended with climatically driven downturns in agricultural favorability, undermining important bases for social consensus. Exploration phases were times of socio-ecological niche discovery and development.

In the research paper, we only use the tree-ring dates from AD 500–1400 (29,311 dates), but we include the comprehensive database in tDAR. We’ve posted two versions of the database: one without site locations that is available to any registered tDAR user, and another available only to those who request permission from Tim Kohler or myself. The database contains site numbers and site names, lab (LTRR) numbers, references where available, the outer date (AD), the outer symbol, and the confidence level. To obtain access to the confidential version with site locations, you must demonstrate that you have permission from the managers of the statewide site files in the four states: Compass (Colorado), NMCRIS/ARMS (New Mexico), Utah Division of State History, and AZSITE (Arizona).

We hope that people find this database useful, and we intend for it to be expanded in the future!

 

REFERENCES

Bocinsky, R. Kyle, Johnathan Rush, Keith W. Kintigh, Timothy A. Kohler, Exploration and exploitation in the macrohistory of the pre-Hispanic Pueblo Southwest, Science Advances 2, e1501532 (2016).

Berry, Michael S., Time, Space, and Transition in Anasazi Prehistory (University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1982).


Upload your SAA Poster or Paper

SAA tDAR Abstract Project

Once again Digital Antiquity has partnered with The Society for American Archaeology to preserve the meeting abstracts and make the presentations and data used to support them available in tDAR.  As a presenter you can access your record in tDAR, edit the metadata, and upload a PDF copy of your paper, presentation, poster, or other supplementary data (up to 3 files/30MB).  The project is now live in tDAR!  Here’s how to get started:

Find your Abstract

Enter your last name, or the title of your 2015 or 2016 SAA Poster or Paper



  1. Search for your abstract.
  2. Request access (will require a free registration).
  3. Once completed, we will send you a message with a link to edit the abstract and upload the record.
  4. Scroll down and edit or enhance any of the metdata you would like.  Click on the green “add files” button under “Attach Document Files” and follow the prompt to upload a PDF copy of your paper or poster.  If you’d like to upload a dataset in addition to your paper or presentation, please contact us for a voucher. If you are adding multiple files (e.g. your paper, a copy of your presentation, and a dataset) you will probably want to create a project.
  5. You may save your work at any point along the way, but when your edits are complete, make sure to change your resource’s status from “draft” to “active”.
  6. Click save and you are done!
  7. As always, please call or email Leigh Anne at (480) 965-1593 or laellison@digitalantiquity.org with any questions along the way!

Were you a presenter in 2015 (San Francisco) but haven’t uploaded your presentation yet?  Not to worry–those abstracts are also in tDAR and can be found in the search bar at the top of this page too.  Help other researchers find and cite your SAA presentations by making them available today!

And SAA Student Members don’t forget that you are eligible to upload 3 files to tDAR annually as part of your membership benefits!  Email membership@saa.org to receive your voucher.


Come visit us at SAA 2016

Learn more about tDAR and the Center for Digital Antiquity.

Wednesday April 6th, 2016

Student Welcome Reception, Hosted by SAA Board of Directors and Student Affairs Committee, Co-sponsored by the Center for Digital Antiquity
9:00-10:30 PM – Northern Hemisphere E1-E4

Thursday April 7th, 2016

Poster Session: “Methodologies for Integrating Eastern Archaic Faunal Databases Using the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR)”
8:00-10:00 AM – Atlantic Hall B
Adam Brin and Leigh Anne Ellison – “Beyond Archiving: Synthesizing Data with tDAR,” Location 9-a

Symposium: “Public Engagement and Education: Developing Heritage Stewardship”
8:00-10:00 AM – Oceanic 3
Jodi Reeves Flores and Leigh Anne Ellison – “Heritage Stewardship in the Digital Age,” 9:30AM

Poster Session: “Heritage Values in Contemporary Society,” Sponsored by the SAA Poster Submission Task Force

8:00-10:00 AM – Atlantic Hall B
Francis McManamon and Jodi Flores – “Heritage in the Digital Age: Guidelines for Preserving and Sharing Heritage with Digital Techniques,”

Saturday April 9th, 2016

Forum: “For the Record: Archaeological Archives in the 21st Century,” Sponsored by Committee for Museums, Collections, and Curation
8:00-10:00 AM – Oceanic 4
Francis McManamon, Discussant

Symposium: What Do We Mean by “Digital Curation?”
1:00-4:00 PM – Asia 4

Leigh Anne Ellison and Adam Brin – “tDAR (the Digital Archaeological Record): A Domain Repository for Archaeology, 1:30PM

Colleen Strawhacker, Thomas McGovern, Emily Lethbridge, Gisli Palsson and Adam Brin – “Linking Transdisciplinary Data to Study the Long-Term Human Ecodynamics of the North Atlantic: The cyberNABO Project,” 2:00PM

Kyle Bocinsky and Adam Brin – SKOPE: Bringing Continent-scale, Local Paleoenvironmental Data to Researchers and the Public, 3:45PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Upcoming Funding Possibilities for Digital Archiving Projects

 

There are a few funding opportunities with deadlines this spring that we’d like to share with you.

Cultural Resource Fund Phase II Grants, Due February 15th

The Federal Communications Commission and seven Class I freight rail have created the Cultural Resource Fund to support Tribal and State cultural and historic preservation projects.  You must be among the eligible tribes or States to apply (see here for eligibility).   Fifty competitive grants of up to $50,000 are available during the Phase II funding cycle.  Phase III funding will be announced later this spring.

Council on Library and Information Resources Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives, Initial Proposals Due April 4th

CLIR Hidden Collections grants are designed to fund programs that digitize and provide access to non-digital collections of rare or unique content in cultural heritage institutions.  Funding for projects ranges from $50,000-$500,000 (and the maximum depends on whether you apply as a single institution or as part of a collaborative project).

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission Access to Historical Records, Draft Due April 4th  

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission of the National Archives seeks proposals that promote the preservation and use of historical records collections to broaden understanding of our democracy, history, and culture. This grant program is designed to support archival repositories in preserving and processing primary source materials. The program emphasizes the creation of online tools that facilitate the public discovery of historical records.  Grant funding is available for up to 14 projects of up to $200,000.

If you or your organization is interested in partnering with Digital Antiquity or including tDAR in your proposal please get in touch with us.  We are available to assist with budget development and are interested in potential collaborative projects related to digital preservation of archaeological information.  Please contact us at info@digitalantiquity.org to discuss your project today!


Taking a look back at 2015

We had a busy year in 2015, tDAR continued to grow with significant contributions from the North Atlantic Biocultural Organization , US Air Force, and US Army Corps of Engineers. tDAR had two major software releases, Munsell and Neolithic which completely redesigned the Data Integration interface to make it easier to use, expanded access to usage statistics, and updated the visualization and mapping interfaces for tDAR.

We are continuing our work, begun in earnest last fall with the Corps of Engineers and the US Air Force on digital archaeological archives for their bases and other facilities. We are also still working with the Phoenix Area Office of the Bureau of Reclamation and Midwest Archeological Center of the National Park Service on their rich archives of archaeological material.

As part of our continuing agreements with Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) and Society for American Archaeology (SAA), we ran workshops highlighting best practices in digital curation at the annual meetings for SAA and AIA in San Francisco and New Orleans respectively. We also continue to provide student members with a number of no cost uploads for contributing their data to tDAR as part of our agreement with SAA.

Content added to tDAR in 2015

resource_by_year

repository_size

Usage Statistics

While we do not maintain detailed statistics on users or use to protect user and contributor privacy, we can share some interesting aggregate data. Below are the most frequently viewed and downloaded resources.

Resources (most viewed)

Resources (most Downloaded)


New Resources in tDAR

We recently made a change to the way we share new resources in tDAR.  In the past, our Twitter account announced each new resource as it was made live.  Moving forward, we’ll do a weekly round-up and let you know what new resources were added to tDAR during the previous week, with a link to a collection in tDAR where the enthusiastic user can see them all!  Our weekly post will attempt to highlight the breadth of new materials by featuring a few of the newest resources.  

This week’s post will play catch up and cover all the resources made active in tDAR over the last month. There is a wonderful variety represented in this group!  For example, there is a new set of photographs of Norse artifacts from Skútustaðir, including several pipe stem fragments and a die.  The Mimbres Pottery Images Digital Database also added more images last month, such as this Style III bowl.  The Eastern Faunal Working Group made available several new coding sheets and ontologies from the Modoc Rock Shelter Site 1980 excavations as part of their efforts to bring together regional faunal data for synthetic analysis.  Coding sheets and ontologies are used alongside data sets to synthesize raw data using tDAR’s data integration tool. There are also a few new resources from Quantico Marine Corps Base.  If you are interested in the history and use of the base you might find this resource a worthwhile read.  Finally, a paper and data related to gender equity in archaeology are now available!  

To see all the resources made active in tDAR for the period 11/02 to 12/11 click here.  

Archives by Year:

Archives by Subject:

e-Newsletter: